Welcome to the first day of temporary legislation under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). What does this mean exactly? Employers across the country with less than 500 employees have new or expanded leave benefits to provide to their employees. The FFCRA provides expanded paid sick leave (EPSL) as well as expanded family medical leave (EFMLA) for qualified reasons.
EPSL may be used for employees who are subject to a direct quarantine order, are advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine, are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and seeking a medical diagnosis, caring for an individual who is subject to a direct quarantine order, caring for a child under 18 whose school or place of care is closed, or another substantially similar situation specified by the Secretary of Health and Human Services.
EFMLA may be used when an employee is unable to telework and has a child at home whose school or place of care is closed. While the first 10 days of this leave is unpaid, the employee is eligible for up to two-thirds of their regular rate of pay for the remaining 10 weeks.
While there was speculation that small businesses with less than 50 employees would be able to claim an exemption from providing both of these leaves, this is no longer the case. The very narrow exemption applies to employers with a proven hardship that allows them to not pay EPSL or EFMLA only due to a child being at home because a school or place of care is closed.
While this act is effective today, there is a 30-day period of grace for non-compliance as long as you show good faith that you are attempting to get into compliance. The full Q&A from the Department of Labor can be found here.This is not an all-encompassing summary of what is included in this new act, nor is it the end of the story. Developments continue as the DOL clarifies the FFCRA. If you do not yet have a plan in place or have questions, contact an HR professional or legal counsel today.